Before the transfer window shut on Friday night I had written a piece on how Fulham were going to be the dark horses of this season; They had totally outplayed Norwich and had given a very good account of themselves at Old Trafford.
At 11:01pm on Friday I pressed the delete button. In the last few days and hours of the Transfer Window, Fulham lost both Moussa Dembele and Clint Dempsey to London rivals Tottenham and the concern for me is those sales have scuppered any chance Fulham had of enjoying a decent season.
Losing both of those players left a big gap in Fulham’s squad, a gap I feel that manager Martin Jol failed to suitably fill. The Amateur Theatre Production that is Sky Sport’s Transfer Deadline Day threw up names such as Michel Bastos and Douglas Costa as possible replacements; indeed, they would have been adequate replacements.
Instead Fulham fans were left to ponder the arrival of Kieran Richardson from Sunderland and Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United. I don’t think these two players possess the quality to replace that of the two D’s and consequently Fulham’s season is now in danger of being a washout.
No disrespect to Richardson, but he is an average Premier League player at best; his unnoticeable Fulham debut at Upton Park on Saturday did nothing to change my mind on the matter. Richardson is a former left-midfielder turned left-back; In John Arne Riise and Matthew Briggs, Fulham already possess two very good left backs.
This means Jol must see Richardson playing further up the field and I don’t think Richardson has the quality in the final third to make a real difference in the Premier League.
There is no doubting Dimitar Berbatov’s obvious talent as a footballer and his signing could be seen as something of a coup for Fulham. However, Berbatov does not play for the club he is with, most of the time he plays for himself. The desire sometimes is not there with the Bulgarian and that has got to be a worry for Fulham who will be relying a great deal on Berbatov for goals this season.
Fundamentally, Fulham have got rid of an exciting young player in Dembele and a dependable highly talented player in Dempsey and have brought in a squad player in Richardson and an ageing talent in Berbatov. Fulham and Jol have not replaced like for like and because of this their season will suffer.
I am not suggesting for a second that Fulham are relegation fodder; they have some very good young players on their books such as Frei, Kasami, Petric and Ruiz and will still cause upsets this season. But had they kept hold of a few players this summer things could have been so different. A cup run looked a decent bet and a top eight finish wasn’t too crazy-a-thought.
Now however, Fulham looked destined for a season of mid-table obscurity and that is a real shame.
Two decent performances at the start of the season had given the Whites momentum to push on and possibly enjoy their best campaign in the top flight.
After the weekend however and the loss of arguably their two best players coupled with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of West Ham, things now have a much more sombre feel to them down by the river.
image: © nicksarebi